Articles

WHAT IS TRUTH? (John 18:38)

 

Truth is bound up with God. We find it in the meaning and interpretation which God gives to everything He has created. Apart from Clod and His revelation, truth does not exist. Where God is, there truth is. Since the whole creation bears witness to God, His truth extends throughout all creation. Nothing can deny what God has revealed or declared. It was the false witness of rebellious Satan that led to the fall of man.

In Genesis 11?6 we read: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Jesus Christ - the Truth
The false witness of Satan led to the fall. But the true witness of our Lord Jesus Christ leads to our redemption. All life apart from Christ is based on falsehood which has no lasting foundation. For only He is "the way, the truth, and the life". (John 14:6) "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). The Kingdom of God, is based on Truth, and "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1: 17) Therefore, the advance of God's Kingdom demands that falsehood be eradicated. Hence the commandment: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Exodus 20:16)


Jesus declared that His purpose in coming into the world was to "bear witness unto the truth." He said: "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:37). That Jesus Christ is the Truth, is affirmed also in the book of Revelation. He is described as "the faithful witness" (L5) and "the Amen, the faithful and true witness" Q14). As "the Amen" He is the One in whom all the promises and the purposes of God are fulfilled. "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God ... 11 (2 Corinthians 1:20) Jesus Christ, the truth, the true and faithful witness, the Amen of God, is the Lord of history. He stands opposed to every false witness. Every individual or group that does not build its life on the foundation of the sovereign, triune God and His written Law?Word is a false witness. The cross to which He was driven by false witnesses stands as a witness to the truth that man is a sinner, that man has violated God's Law and that, without repentance, fid& and obedience, he deserves to die. The cross witnesses to the truth that there is only one way of salvation apart from which there is only judgment and eternal damnation.

The Truth in every area of life
The truth must be upheld and preserved in every sphere of life. In the family the Bible must have a proper place. Parents and children must be governed according to its teaching. In the church the ministry must deal faithfully with the Scriptures. The principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture must apply in all its preaching, teaching, administering of the sacraments and in exercising discipline. The church must speak as the true witness to the requirements of God's Law in society. In the state, too, which is God's minister of justice for the execution of His Law, those in authority must preserve the truth of God by commending the doer of good and punishing the doer of evil? "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, he afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." (Romans 133?4)


Judges Although a judge must be blind to the persons before him, to ensure that all are equal before the law, he cannot be impartial when considering the issues. He must favour the Law of God and apply its judgment on the matter in hand. He must do as God would do, "requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and ... justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness." (2 Chronicles 6:23) In Psalm 82, we learn that judges are called gods, not in respect of their persons, but because they function as those to whom "the word of God came" (John 10:35) In other words, judges and courts of law are basic to the operation and advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth. If their judgment is corrupted, as is described in Psalm 82:2 where it says: "How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?" then "all the foundations of the earth are out of course." (v 5) Society is shaken and disturbed where judgment is perverted. When Jesus stated that the Word of God came to judges, He also said: "The Scripture cannot be broken." It cannot be made null and void, 7he Bible is a book for judges for the ordering of society according to the truth. Where the Word of God is set aside, we are ruled by false witnesses, and society is then under the curse of God and under His direct judgment. To deny the civil application of God's Word and to confine it to matters concerning the church and the personal lives of Christians, as many do, is another form of false witness.

Witnesses Turning briefly to the witness M a court of law, the testimony of a witness must be honest and faithful. He must testify under an oath taken in the name of the triune God. His testimony must be subject to cross?examination and to corroboration. Scripture also requires no less than two witnesses. "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." (Deuteronomy 19:15) To witness falsely is a criminal offence against God and against man. The punishment of the false witness is prescribed in Deut. 19:19: "Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you."

The ninth commandment requires us to bear true witness concerning God and man and even our enemies and Satan. To ascribe to Satan the power that belongs only to God is to witness falsely. To witness truly is to promote the well-being of our society and a godly law?order in which nothing, neither good nor evil, will be exaggerated or concealed. Unless truth as defined by the Bible is upheld and preserved, our society will perish in a revolution of falsehood which promises a utopia beyond good and evil.

Withholding Truth
We are under an obligation to tell the truth in all normal circumstances. But we also learn from Scripture that there are situations when truth?telling can bring injury or death to the people of God. To give the truth to an enemy bent on the destruction of the truth is to be a party to that evil action. So we see that neither the lies of Rahab with which she protected the Israelite spies (Joshua 2) nor the lies of the Hebrew midwives with which they saved the baby boys _(Exodus 1) were condemned. On the contrary, "Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive," and "God dealt well with the midwives." Clearly, an enemy of God is not entitled to the truth. Furthermore, our obligation to tell the truth in normal circumstances does not mean that private matters, which are of no concern to others, must be divulged.


Falsehood and "Freedom"
We are all witnesses of a universe of God?created and God?ordered facts. In God's creation everything speaks of Him. A true witness acknowledges this, but a false witness rebelliously suppresses it. Instead of submitting to the interpretation which God gives to everything, he exalts his mind above God's Word to a position of false independence. He "changes the truth of God into a lie" (Romans 1:25). If his interpretation, at any point, is M harmony with the truth, he does not acknowledge God. If his interpretation is in conflict with God's revelation of truth in creation and in Scripture, he maintains that his word alone is true. What follows is a denial of God. But it is absurd to assume that a creature can so much as think independently of God and arrive at the truth without God. It is a claim to be God and a denial of the Almighty, Clearly the creature lives, moves and has his being in the context of God and His truth, as the Scripture says: In Rin "we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17:28) If we try to exalt ourselves above the Creator, substituting our truth for His, then life becomes meaningless, full of wrong thinking, lies, slander, false witness, false prophecy, false media and false freedom. Man who is enmeshed in falsehood cannot be free, for the testimony of the Faithful and True Witness is: "If ye continue in my word... ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) He sent us the "Spirit of truth" to guide us "into all truth." (John 16:13) And if we pray in faith our "heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." (Luke 11: 13)


So God expects us to worship Him "in spirit and in truth," (John 4:23) "to testify of the truth" and to walk in it. (3 John 3). He expects that we speak the truth, and says to us. "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37)

GOD OUR SAVIOUR WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED,
AND TO COME UNTO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUM (1 Timothy 2:4)


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